With Thursday’s unveiling of the new 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display, Apple now offers “Retina” quality displays in all product categories: phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. While the benefit of a Retina display varies greatly depending on the overall size of the panel and distance from the average user’s eyes during use, we were curious about how the new Retina iMac’s display compared to other Retina displays in terms of pixel density.
Below is a list we compiled of all of Apple’s Retina displays going back to the technology’s first appearance on the iPhone 4. Note that we omitted products from the same family that offered identical resolution to their predecessors, such as the iPhone 4S.
|Device||Resolution||Pixel Density (ppi)|
|iPhone 6 Plus||1,920 x 1,080||401|
|iPhone 6||1,334 x 750||326|
|iPhone 5||1,136 x 640||326|
|iPhone 4||960 x 640||326|
|iPad mini with Retina Display||2,048 x 1,536||326|
|iPad with Retina Display||2,048 x 1,536||264|
|13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display||2,560 x 1,600||232|
|15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display||2,880 x 1,800||226|
|27-inch iMac with 5K Retina Display||5,120 x 2,880||218|
As you can see, the new Retina iMac offers the lowest pixel density, measured in pixels per inch, of any Retina display to date. Conversely, the iPhone 6 Plus sports nearly twice the pixel density of the Retina iMac, and a roughly 23 percent improvement over the iPhone 4, 5, and 6, which all share the same pixel density thanks to resolution bumps that matched the increase in screen size.
Don’t get us wrong, the Retina iMac offers a big jump in pixel density over its non-Retina counterpart (218 ppi vs. 109 ppi), and users will be hard-pressed to notice a difference between their iPhones and Retina iMac screens while using both at a normal distance. But if you get close to that iMac screen, it won’t look as good as your iPhone, and that’s just the reality of a cost-benefit analysis when producing large high resolution displays.